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Reviewed by:
  • Paul Hindemith und die neue Welt: Studien zur amerikanischen Hindemith-Rezeption
  • David Neumeyer
Paul Hindemith und die neue Welt: Studien zur amerikanischen Hindemith-Rezeption. By Rüdiger Jennert. (Würzburger Musikhistoriche Beiträge, Bd. 26.) Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2005. [346 p. ISBN 3-7952-1181-6. €68.] Music examples, index, bibliography, CD-ROM.

In recent years, research publication on Paul Hindemith has mainly been the province of German authors. A small number of English-language dissertations and journal articles have appeared, but representation in issues of the Paul-Hindemith-Jahrbuch since 1998 (when papers from the 1995 Yale centenary conference were published) has sunk to almost none. There are exceptions, to be sure, principal among them being Stephen Luttman's excellent and long-needed research handbook (Paul Hindemith: A Guide to Research [New York: Routledge, 2005]) and Claire Taylor-Jay's savvy study of Weimar-era opera (The Artist-Operas of Pfitzner, Krenek, and Hindemith: Politics and the Ideology of the Artist [Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004]).

Perhaps it is not surprising, under the circumstances, that the first extended documentary study of the reception of Hindemith's music in the United States should take the form of a German doctoral dissertation. Jennert did his work under the supervision of Ulrich Konrad (Würzburg), with much informal assistance from Hindemith scholar and music theorist Günther Metz (also of Würzburg). The foundation in archival work is substantial: the author lists collections and acknowledges the staff at seven United States libraries in addition to the two indispensable German sources, the Paul-Hindemith-Institut (Frankfurt) and the archives of Hindemith's publisher Schott (Mainz).

In the manner of traditional German dissertations in musicology, Jennert's book is comprehensive in its treatment of the topic but focuses on documentation and establishing historical contexts rather than on a strongly formed intellectual framework or extended analyses. What the reader should expect, then, is a great deal of data and useful summaries of the information but little in the way of ideological assessment. A coherent narrative of Hindemith biography does lie at the back of the book, but it is the generally accepted account, which Jennert does not challenge: instead he does an excellent job of fitting what we might call the "American factor" into that history and thereby providing both complement and corrective to Luther Noss's Paul Hindemith in the United States (Urbana: [End Page 377] University of Illinois Press, 1989). Noss, with a handful of Hindemith's American students (in particular, Howard Boatwright and Eckhart Richter), promoted the idea that the composer's time at Yale (1940–53) constituted the years of mastery, as evidenced in his theoretical and pedagogical work and by a string of his most familiar compositions: The Four Temperaments (1940), Ludus tonalis (1942), Symphonic Metamorphoses after Themes of Carl Maria von Weber (1943), the revision of Das Marienleben (1945–48), and the symphony in B-flat for band (1951). Although Noss's book did offer much useful documentation, his primary goal was to tell this story. The prevailing European view, more plausibly, has been that Hindemith reached his first maturity in the mid-1920s, arrived at true mastery in the 1930s, and moved in two quite different trajectories from that point during the American years (1940s) and his final decade (1950s). All but the 1940s are marked by major stage works: Cardillac (1925–26), Neues vom Tage (1928–29), Mathis der Maler (1933–35), and Die Harmonie der Welt (1951, 1956–57). Remark-ably, as Jennert notes, "from the beginning of Hindemith reception in New York [1923] through 1953 only a single stage work was produced" (p. 157; my translation), and that was the little one-act opera Hin und Zurück (1927). Noss's history was an amalgam of understandable personal loyalties and the residue of the fact that, although his instrumental music was well-known (as Jennert's appendix listing New York concert performances from 1923 to 1953 nicely documents), Hindemith's operas started to appear on stages in the United States only after he moved back to Europe.

Following a brief introduction on the state of research, an extended (120-page) chapter discusses American musical...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-150X
Print ISSN
0027-4380
Pages
pp. 377-379
Launched on MUSE
2006-11-06
Open Access
No
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